Thursday, January 31, 2019

Ballin' Jack - 1973 - Special Pride

Ballin' Jack
Special Pride

01. This Song 2:38
02. Come Up Front 2:48
03. Good Feeling 3:35
04. Sunday Morning 3:34
05. Big Dealer 3:30
06. Thunder 3:22
07. Try To Relax 5:03
08. Two Years 5:59
09. Carry Me Back 3:00
10. Special Pride 6:50

Bass, Lead Vocals – Luther Rabb
Congas – King Errisson
Drums, Percussion, Vibraphone, Vocals – Ronnie Hammon
Guitar, Mandolin – Glenn Thomas
Harmonica – Tommy Morgan
Keyboards – Mike Lang
Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Vocals – Jim Coile
Synthesizer, Horns – Jimmie Haskell
Trombone, Vocals – Tim McFarland
Vibraphone – Victor Feldman

The opener "This Song" comes in a casual pop-rock garb, but already the second number works right. Popping bass, brass sections, fuzzy organ, pounding rhythm, screaming lead guitar - what more could you want. "Good Feeling" with its tricky rhythm and transparent production clings into the ear canal, "Sunday Morning" captivates with bongos (naturally play a bigger role here) and saxophones, you feel transported back to the good old days of "Detective Rockford" and "The Streets of San Francisco". One must not forget that the really great times of the fuzzy radio should come yet. Accordingly, some songs on this album still seem strangely awkward and unpolished. Also missing now and then the one or other igniting beat or even a catchy melody. Does not do anything. Ballin'jack delivers a solid album without spectacular highlights. If one can still hear good today, but whether a purchase is still worthwhile, the individual case should decide.

Even closer to WAR in style. Luther has finally become the leader of the band, after Jim Walter's departure. Tim McFarland's input is minimal, in fact he's on his way out of the band. Musically, Special Pride is something new for Ballin 'Jack. For the first time, we hear harmonica on some tracks, like "This Song" and "Try To Relax". Not to mention some female (?) Backing vocals on things like "Sunday Morning" and "Special Pride". But there are plenty of good moments here, like the powerful opening jam on "Try To Relax", the acoustic thing on "Two Years", the proto-Dixieland style on "Carry Me Back", and the classic title track itself.

The biggest problem here is that the opener is flat-out awful. But my god ... do you know how close "Come Up Front" is to hip hop? I mean, seriously, the first fifteen seconds of that track could conceivably be the beginning of a showbiz and AG track. 

And there are more guitars here and less flute. And the fonk is harder here, but not diminished. And that title track! Hoo man.

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